‘A Corporate Humanity’ – Cataloguing the Records of the Glasgow Public Health Department

Thanks to a generous grant from the Wellcome Trust, a project is ongoing to catalogue the records of the Glasgow Public Health Department and its predecessor authorities. Work is finished on the departmental records themselves and an item-level list of this important collection is available for the first time.

The Public Health Department’s work lent itself to statistical analysis and they produced a wealth of reports, the most important being the annual reports of the Medical Officers of Health. These date from 1863 and include sections on population; causes of deaths by age and district; infectious diseases; and the work of the hospitals and reception houses amongst others. They are supported by files of raw data used to compile the reports along with weekly and fortnightly returns of mortality statistics (1844-1973); and returns of infectious diseases (1920-1973). There are reports on specific events such as the typhoid outbreak in 1880 and the influenza epidemic in 1957 and records relating to particular areas of the Department’s work such as smoke registers and files on the inspection of shipping.

The project has not stopped with the records of the Department, however. Acknowledging the complicated history of health functions in Glasgow, current work is to re-catalogue the Police records. In the 19th century policing the city was seen as much more than a crime-fighting operation. Records of the Board of Police and its committees date from 1800 and cover such subjects as health, hospitals, cleansing, and sewage disposal.

Similarly, those burghs absorbed into the city had public health functions and their records will also be re-catalogued, including a substantial amount of previously unavailable material.

 

Report on enteric fever outbreak, 1878 (ref: D-HE/1/5/14)

Report on enteric fever outbreak, 1878 (ref: D-HE/1/5/14)

 

Children receiving light treatment at Baird Street Clinic, 1926 (ref: D-HE/7/2/1/6)

Children receiving light treatment at Baird Street Clinic, 1926 (ref: D-HE/7/2/1/6)

Regulations on excluding from school children exposed to infectious diseases, 1931 (ref: D-HE/1/5/37)

Regulations on excluding from school children exposed to infectious diseases, 1931 (ref: D-HE/1/5/37)

For further information contact Alison Scott, Project Archivist: alisone.scott@glasgowlife.org.uk

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